We are leaving for Paris in a month. The things we definitely want to see are the Louvre, Musee d'Orsay, a Seine River Cruise, Eiffel Tower , and Notre Dame. I see all of these tickets can be bought in advance before we even get there. Is that the best way to go or should we just purchase them when we get there? Would anyone suggest the Eiffel Tower and Seine Cruise at night or dusk instead of during the day?
The Eiffel Tower at night gives a view of the city-lights panorama. Plus the tower itself sometimes twinkles. http://www.toureiffel.paris/everything-about-the-tower/the-illuminations
The Seine cruise, day or night, is a matter of motoring through a ditch staring upwards over high banks. Some (maybe most) of the boats are equipped with illumination which for some people's tastes highlights the tops of the buildings dramatically.
You can find posts on this website about Eiffel Tower tickets being sold out ahead of time. Long lines sometimes form at the big museum ticket counters; with an advance ticket you would face only the quicker-moving lines for security checks.
You most definitely want to get your Eiffel Tower tickets in advance at their website. Look for the official site when purchasing those. We did all the things you mentioned. For convenience sake you may be interested in the 48 hour Paris museum pass which will allow you shorter lines to get into museums (but you still need to go thru security lines).
The only tickets you really need to purchase in advance of your trip are for the Eiffel Tower. Check the official website, http://www.toureiffel.paris/en/preparing-your-visit/buying-your-tickets.html. Tickets go on sale 90 days in advance so you may be too late. If none are available for your date(s), try a Behind the Scenes tour with a "skip the line" ticket to the second floor. I've used Get Your Guide twice with good results. Once on the Tower, there's a short line to buy a ticket to the third (Summit) level.
For the museums, get a Paris Museum Pass, http://en.parismuseumpass.com/rub-t-presentation-and-advantages-2.htm. You can purchase the Pass once you arrive in Paris at one of the many museums it covers. Try one of the small museums like the Rodin.
You can purchase tickets for the Seine river cruises in Paris, no need to purchase in advance. There are several companies that offer a 1 hour cruise (very nice!). I like to take the cruise at twilight so you can see the city illuminated. Beautiful!
You are probably way too late for the Eiffel Tower which is the only one of these things that needs pre-ticketing. You can check though until you leave as sometimes tickets pop back up on the site as the agencies that scoop them up release them back. Here is our trip last fall in the rain on an October evening:
The hazard of getting tickets ahead is that you then get the weather you get. We still were happy not to have to stand in line and it was worth it to us (although of course there were no lines on that rainy day)
Seine cruises need no booking, just walk up and get a ticket at the nearest dock when you feel like going. I am not a fan as I find walking in Paris more pleasant than riding down in the ditch. If you do go, IMHO the night cruises are best. You can save a couple of Euros by pre-buying vouchers for Vedettes Pont Neuf; the vouchers can be exchanged when you feel like the trip (they price differently for day and night cruises, which is the only restriction on the vouchers)
Always get tickets ahead for the Musee d'Orsay or else get a Museum pass. Those with tickets use a different door for security and when the line is an hour or two long the restricted line is only 15 minutes or so. Much of the time you can just walk in the designated door with no line at all. At the Louvre, you can access a different security line if you have tickets or the museum pass. The same is true of the Orangerie and some other sites. For a first trip I'd just get the museum pass whether it saves money or not just for the convenience.
If you want to climb the Notre Dame Tower, get in line at least half an hour before it opens as only 20 go up at a time and the line grows as the day goes on. It is IMHO worth doing once in your life; the Museum Pass gets you up the tower but there is no line privilege.
have a great trip.
You will want to book your Eiffel Tower tickets ASAP.
There are still some tickets available for the end of August here on the official website: http://m.toureiffel.paris/home.
The Eiffel Tower is amazing day or night.
If you want to see the illuminated tower at night, one of the best spots is from Trócadero, just across the river. The tower twinkles for about 5-10 minutes, on the hour every night, starting at sunset.
You can buy your Paris Museum Pass when you get to Paris. We purchased ours at the Cluny Museum & there was no line!
Enjoy your trip!
Eiffel Tower would be the only one I would recommend. But even the ET workers go on strike at a whim and those pre-purchased tickets are worthless if the place is closed.
Thanks for all the great tips and advice . It is much appreciated . I did end up buying the Eiffel Tower tickets from their website .
I love the Seine cruise both by day and by night, as the experience is different.
If you plan to take the Vedettes du Pont Neuf cruise, you get a reduced ticket with advance Internet purchase; you can print out the ticket or show it on your device. It's on the right side of this page: http://vedettesdupontneuf.com/home/